None of these things represent our Advent season this year.
This year, Advent looks like this:
There are two dehydrators on the table because I don't have counter space enough in the kitchen and the apples are starting to go so they had to be done now. A roll of toilet paper replaces a box of tissues because we haven't found the tissues yet, and he's been out in the cold and came in with a runny nose.
There's Hambuger Helper (not even the name brand, though) on those plates. We don't have a desk set up yet, so the laptop sits on the table, too, along with a tape measure, bills that have to be paid, and a random DVD case... but no festive table cloth or runner, even though I have one around here somewhere.
There's no trim on the doorway into the living room, the furniture in the living room is stacked up and shoved into corners so we have room to start putting in carpet. There are no pictures on the walls, the wainscoting is still mismatched, and if it wasn't for the Advent wreath in the middle of the table and the excessive amount of snow outside, you wouldn't even know it's December.
It's just so beautiful.
My husband gave me a weird look as I took this picture- "You want a shot with the computer in there, too? And the toilet paper roll?" he asked, eyebrows raised.
Yep, I do.
Because you know, even though this picture won't be featured on any Christmas cards (not even our own) or in a seasonal magazine, it's so lovely. It's our first Advent in this house. And I want to remember it.
I want to remember it just the way it is, not the way I wish it could be.
Someday? Someday there will be a Christmas runner on that dining room table. Someday the trim will be up, the walls will be decorated, and we'll finally have the luxury of a box of tissues again. But that's not this year. And that's okay.
Because this season isn't about perfection or about decoration. Advent is about the waiting. Waiting for the long-awaited Christ Child to be born to save the world.
Waiting is something we're all familiar with, but we don't much like it. I know I don't. Maybe you're waiting for a new home, a job, a loved one's return... and that waiting is so hard. But it's so necessary.
Joy doesn't come when everything's perfect. Happiness doesn't magically fall into place when everything's right with the world. Advent reminds us to find joy in the waiting, in the imperfection, in the messy and untrimmed and not-magazine-worthy.
So yes, I love our little Advent table. It's not perfect this season- and I don't think it ever will be. And that's okay. I have joy in this imperfect season- because I've learned to wait with hope.
As we light the candles around our own imperfect Advent, we remember the One we're waiting for- the One who was perfect on our behalf, so that we might find hope, even in our very real, very human waiting.
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